PARIS (AP) – Three men suspected of belonging to a radical Palestinian group were convicted in absentia and sentenced to 30 years in prison Thursday for their roles in a gun and grenade attack on a Greek cruise ship more than two decades ago.
The 1988 attack on the “City of Poros” as it was returning from a one-day cruise in the Saronic Gulf islands left nine people dead, including three French citizens, and dozens wounded.
The three convicted by a special French anti-terrorism court were suspected of belonging to the Fatah Revolutionary Council, a Palestinian extremist group linked to the organization of Palestinian radical Abu Nidal.
Adnan Sojod was convicted of murder and attempted murder. Samir Khaidir and Abdul Hamid Amoud, meanwhile, were convicted of conspiracy to commit murder and conspiracy to attempt murder. New arrest warrants were issued for the men, whose whereabouts are unknown and who may not even be alive.
The attack on the cruise liner was among the most notorious blamed on Abu Nidal’s radical Palestinian faction, which is believed to have killed or wounded nearly 1,000 people in 20 countries beginning in 1973.
Before suspicion turned to the Palestinian group, two of the French citizens killed were initially suspected of involvement. Their families said that while Thursday’s decision was a symbolic victory, it did not erase the pain of those false accusations.
“There was a laissez-faire, a complacence of the state, and that, for me, it remains,” said Christiane Vigneron, mother of Laurent Vigneron, who was killed by two shots to the back and later cleared.
Some families of victims have also criticized France, which can prosecute crimes that happen elsewhere if French citizens are involved, for the delay in bringing the suspects to justice.
Francis Szpiner, a lawyer for the civil parties in the case, said that some families might bring a case against the French government for miscarriage of justice.
Prosecutor Olivier Bray himself said the delay was “inexcusable.”
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